Happy Tails: Our Fearless, Fabulous Foster Families!

We usually feature a story about a cat in this section, but this time we want to pay tribute to the people who so often are responsible for many of our happy endings…the foster families of MRFRS!
13669360_10100127047278450_7981446956028335773_oIf you’ve been to our adoption center, you know that space is at a premium. We could never care for all of the cats who come our way if the shelter was the only location available to us. So, over time we’ve developed a compassionate and caring group of individuals who take in cats in all types of conditions: kittens that are too small for spay/neuter, cats or kittens that have URI or injuries, kittens who need socialization, adult cats who are sick or have injuries, “hospice” cats with terminal illnesses, or just cats who need a “soft place to land” for a while before coming back to the shelter or to their owner.
Foster Jane Tarr observes, “The shelter can only house so many cats and kittens before having to turn them away due to space constraints. Fostering enables the shelter to take in more cats than it can house, providing a second chance for many surrendered cats and kittens—many of which would have no place to go.”
13147339_10100106034877470_4122691982257801329_oWhat does MRFRS look for when identifying fosters for our kitties? Shelter Manager Brit Fox Hover outlined some of the requirements: “Foster homes need to have a separate space, like a bedroom or bathroom, for their fosters so that they are separated from their existing cats, dogs, or other pets. Ideally this space can be easily cleaned and disinfected between fosters.”
Just as importantly, Hover notes, “Fosters need to be patient with their cats and kittens, as the animals in their care have likely experienced a lot of change and need a soft, quiet, and loving place to land for a little while. Foster cats and kittens always need to be kept inside.”
There are a variety of other needs, such as transportation, good communication skills, and sometimes the ability to administer medicines or spend significant time socializing kittens. Right now, about 30 caring families are part of our fabulous foster network, and they all have stories about how rewarding they find it.
Betsy Davis states this eloquently: “The sheer number of cats (and dogs) euthanized in the U.S. every year is heartbreakingly staggering. Fostering gives me and my family the opportunity to validate and affirm the worth of each animal’s life, one life at a time. The gift of fostering to us is the chance to connect with the humane, generous, compassionate, and loving parts of ourselves. Plus, it’s unbelievably fun!”
Foster Jane Tarr agrees: “The most important reason we foster is that it makes us feel good!!  We have fostered at least 35 cats and kittens since we started in May of 2015. It is so rewarding when a terrified feral kitten turns the corner and relaxes, trusts, and starts purring. It takes lots of TLC and time but it is well worth it as they make sweet and loving companions.”
10628110_10205537954348222_865755611215697822_nFostering is not without its challenges, however, especially when dealing with the most vulnerable. Experienced foster Emily Fleming recalls, “I have fostered many challenging cases over the years, but one that sticks out is [a] kitten litter from last winter. I started fostering them when they were only 12 hours old after their mother rejected them. I didn’t expect them to do as well as they did, but all four made it and got adopted! My family ended up adopting Charlotte, the runt, who was particularly challenging, but she is now nine months old and is doing so well!”
Recently, one of our foster families made a video to assist us with a grant we were applying for. We think you’ll enjoy seeing for yourself how much time and effort our fosters put into the cats and kittens they help.
Think you’d like to be part of our fabulous family of fosters? Email Brit at britney@mrfrs.org to learn more.

Featured Feline

HarlequinHarlequin is a beautiful, friendly girl of just 3 who lost her quiet home and is just looking for another!  Harlequin lived in a quiet home with an elderly person and was a total lap cat.  She would love to find another quiet, loving home to call her own as an adored girl with lots of loving attention.  If you love torti’s and can’t resist this beautiful face, please come in and meet Harlequin and see if she isn’t the purrfect cat for you.

Handsome Boy Looking for a Match

San Antonio

San Antonio

Hi, Let me introduce myself.  My name is San Antonio, at least that is what my new name is.  When I was at home with my dad my name was Oreo.  I had a quiet home with my dad, just the two of us.  We were always together.  We hung out, watched TV, sat together on the couch, but my dad passed away and I came here.  It was hard for me at first loosing my dad and being in a new place with lots of people and other cats.  I just wasn’t used to all that.  I am settling in though and everyone here is very nice.  Still not too sure about the other cats, but they seem OK.  I would love to find another home that was quiet, I think I really prefer that.  I enjoy being with you, sitting in your lap (I give kisses if I really like you), I would keep you company when you eat.  I am a handsome big boy of 8 and I pride myself in taking good care of myself.  If you think we would be a good match, please come in and ask to meet me, I am just waiting for that one purrfect match!

Happy Tails: Coconut, A Day in the Life

Coconut in Blinds

Coconut’s story is a great example of how closely MRFRS works with local vets to help cats in need. This pretty white kitty was surrendered to a local vet, due to gastrointestinal issues that no one seemed to be able to solve. The vet tried hard to find the source of her problem, and then our shelter staff gave it a try, but this young and playful girl still had tummy troubles. So, we sent her back to the vet where they pulled out all the stops. Ultimately, they found that putting Coconut on a raw diet solved her issues, and she has since gained weight and turned into the healthy and happy kitty she was meant to be. Here is an account of Coconut’s new life with her adopted “purr-ents” and animal friends:

Butter & Coconut playing inbox

Coconut is an early bird! Her day starts somewhere between 4 and 5 am when she wakes up her people to let them know it’s time for breakfast. She kindly lets them go back to sleep after they serve her. Usually, she tries to trick them into giving her a second breakfast after they get out of bed! Her favorite hobby is eating and she LOVES treats. Most of her days are spent sitting on top of her favorite chair in front of the window, where she watches the birds outside and the chickens in the yard. She lives with her new friend, Butter (pictured here playing together in a box).
She gets regular visits from her doggie friends (all 4 of them!) who live upstairs. Her best pal is Brodie, a 120 lb. Great Dane/St. Bernard mix who always comes to the window to see if she’s there. Coconut is a very sassy lady, but is kind and gentle to her people’s little grandchildren.

Butter & Coconut eating together
Like all cats, she certainly has her funny little quirks. She moves her water dish around no matter how heavy it is, and she’s got a thing for bare feet and will bite your toes if you’re not paying attention. When she came to her new home, her diet was very strict and she was only eating raw rabbit. She’s now very healthy and eats a large variety of proteins. She is doing excellent with her raw diet! Her current favorite is chicken. She loves to play and is hoping to eventually have a third kitty playmate!

Ask the Vet

with Dr. Sam Simonelli
I’m wondering about my cat’s dental health…what are the important things I need to know or do?
Remember the Cheshire cat? Sitting up in that tree with that sparkly white smile? Wouldn’t you love for your cat’s teeth to be as beautiful as the Cheshire cat’s? With a little time and effort (and cooperation from your cat, of course), it can be possible.
Tooth brushing is the best way to keep tartar from accumulating on your cat’s teeth. Not every cat will be amenable to tooth brushing, but you can try using a small child’s toothbrush or a finger brush. You should never use human toothpaste, as the fluoride can be harmful, but pet-friendly toothpaste is available in yummy (to cats!) flavors like chicken and malt. You only need to worry about cleaning the outer surface of the teeth and the whole process can take less than a minute, no flossing required! Don’t forget to give kitty a reward for positive reinforcement. Your regular veterinarian would be happy to demonstrate for you.
Dental treats and diets are a good second choice for a cat that won’t allow tooth brushing. The pet store shelves are full of options that claim to clean teeth and provide fresh breath, so make sure to look for products that have plaque control and the seal of the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). This means that the product was tested and proven to aid in oral health care. For more information, visit vohc.org.
When you bring your cat to the veterinarian every year, his/her teeth should be checked as part of the exam. It’s very common for cats over the age of three to have enough tartar to require a dental cleaning. Unlike us, for our animal friends, a cleaning requires anesthesia in order for the teeth to be properly evaluated. With your cat under anesthesia, dental x-rays will be taken, the tartar will be ultrasonically scaled off the teeth and they will be polished smooth. The teeth will be examined for fractures and tooth resorption, painful, cavity-like lesions that erode the enamel and root of the tooth. Resorptive lesions are a very common finding in feline mouths and require tooth extraction. If your cat gets a dental cleaning, make sure your vet is using dental x-rays! They are very important to making sure that any issues under the surface are detected and that any extractions are done completely, without any roots or tooth fragments left behind.
In addition to tartar and resorptive lesions, there are several more serious oral conditions that can be found in cat’s mouths. Stomatitis is an inflammatory condition that causes the inside of the mouth to become very raw and extremely painful. It often requires all of the teeth to be extracted and sometimes requires lifelong medications or special diets. There are also several types of oral cancer that affect cats; the most common are squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. These are usually very aggressive cancers that are difficult to treat.
Even though they seem minor by comparison, plaque and tartar are made up of bacteria that can lead to infection in other parts of a cat’s body, like the kidneys and heart. Taking care of your cat’s teeth can improve his/her overall health and longevity; you should consider it just as important as feeding and grooming. Be sure to enlist the help and advice of your regular veterinarian to keep your cat smiling as bright as the Cheshire cat.